Still Corners - Strange Pleasures (5 stars)

Still Corners - Strange Pleasures

A record of great pop and immense beauty destined to possess your summer

(Sub Pop)

A pleasure for certain, but not an unexpected one. As much as it owed to the much-missed Broadcast, Still Corners’ 2011 debut Creatures of an Hour was such an auspiciously pretty arrival that it’s little wonder to find the London-based US/English boy-girl duo returning with a follow-up of such immense beauty. Steeped in the chilly synths, crisp electronic drums and oceanic reverb of 80s pop so prevalent on today’s musical landscape, it’s like it never went out of fashion.

As only great pop will, from its steady motorik beat through slipstream guitars, opener ‘The Trip’ couches cathartic feelings of escape in the language of a long drive. ‘Pack your bags, hit the open road,’ Tessa Murray breathily coos, her voice a dead-ringer for Alison Goldfrapp’s, as a glowing synth arpeggio flickers by like sodium lights. For an album hewn from a terrible break-up – ‘suicide, all that stuff’, comments songwriter/producer Greg Hughes dryly – it isn’t half heavenly at times. The glistening ‘Firelies’ could be M83 exercising unusual restraint, while ‘Beatcity’ – and this is true of much of the record – would have fitted neatly on the Drive soundtrack.

It’s when they throttle down with ‘Going Back to Strange’, an eerily peaceful postcard from ‘the brink’ set to choral oohs and deep synth drones, that Still Corners reveal this album’s finest moment. By ‘Midnight Drive' the key has turned minor, the mood darker and wearier, and the final destination seems a lot less certain. Strange Pleasures is a record – like Beach House’s Bloom in 2012, or Washed Out’s Within and Without in 2011 – destined to possess your summer: an endlessly rewarding listen for warm nights and journeys, stuck on repeat long after the days grow shorter again.

Still Corners - Berlin Lovers [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

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